As the saying goes, “some days you’re the windshield, other days you’re the bug.” However, on a cool, crisp, clear Southern California autumn day back in 1976, that saying, when applied to me, could easily have morphed into “some days you’re the photographer, other days you’re the photographed” as I made pass after pass aboard a pre-production prototype 1977 Honda CB750F2 Super Sport for the cameraman. The assignment was simple: shoot enough color film for future magazine ads and brochures featuring Honda’s latest iteration of its fabled 4-cylinder superbike. My job was to keep the 750F2 on line and upright for the day. And to dispose of any further drama, that’s exactly what I did.
If my memory serves correctly, I got the gig when a friend and fellow freelance writer, Mike Griffin, who had contacts in the advertising business, submitted my name to American Honda’s ad agency, which was looking for someone to pilot the bike for the photo ads. A few follow-up phone calls later and I was in my Dodge van heading for the Rock Store in the Malibu Hills where, with miles and miles of twisty roads at our beck and call, we set out to make the new Honda look as enticing as ever.
This was my first contact with the 750F2, a continuation model of the 750F Super Sport, launched in 1975. That bike, sporting a subdued yellow gas tank, always looked forlorn and defeated to me. By 1975 the CB750 platform was getting long in the tooth and short on excitement; moreover, the 1975 750F’s paint color didn’t shout “Sport!” and the single tube-shaped muffler hanging on the bike’s right side looked like a mere afterthought.
But by 1977, Honda seemed to have their top-dog sport bike sorted out and looking good, dressing it with a racy-looking megaphone-style muffler and new cutting-edge Comstar wheels developed through the championship endurance road racing program in Europe. Ditto for the black engine cases, and the combination created a bike that looked rather spicy as I gracefully guided it along the fashion runway for our one-man paparazzi to photograph.
While researching the CB400F Super Sport article for this issue of Motorcycle Classics, I stumbled upon this advertisement that occupied the inside front cover spread of Cycle Guide magazine’s April 1977 issue. Ironically, within two years I was hired as that magazine’s associate editor, and a couple weeks later I piloted Suzuki’s future GS1000S — at that time still a gray market model in America — for the July 1979 cover. No bonus pay for that performance, but that’s okay. A ride on any frontline motorcycle can be priceless.
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